Former public school teacher and education major speak on teacher turnover

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Teachers are a vital part of many children’s education, but here in North Carolina, many educators are leaving the profession.

“It was one of those things where it was simply hard to make ends meet when both of us were not bringing home enough money, and we still have to pay for the house, we have to pay for daycare,” said former public school teacher, Keeden Hopkins.

Hopkins and his wife, Colleen, are teachers. While Colleen still works for the public school system, Keeden made the decision to leave to work for the private sector because of better pay, despite his passion for his job.

“I love teaching kids. It’s not just about the facts and passing the test. It’s all about teaching them how to be strong thinkers and researchers,” said Hopkins.

This is a decision many teachers have made recently, according to the NC Department of Public Instruction. Attrition rose to 11.5% in the 2022-2023 school year, from 7.8% the previous year.

The Vice President of the North Carolina Association of Educators says he feels many things need to change to improve public education.

“Pay for everybody has to come up. We need to have more humans in the mix and, in particular, the kind of support staff resources,” said NCAE’s Vice President, Bryan Proffitt.

ECU special education major Lexi Lozner says she comes from a family of teachers and while she knows she will have tough days, she believes the reward will be bigger than the risk.

“In education, you have rough days, but then you have 25 little ones that are smiling back at you and that makes it all worth it,” said Lozner.

If you want to break those numbers down even more, the DPI shows that around 90,000 teachers were employed between March 2022 and March 2023, and around 10,000 of those are no longer employed with the public school system.

The report did note that a few years ago, state legislators broadened what a “vacancy” meant. Now, it includes positions filled by teachers who are provisionally licensed or re-hired retirees.